Home remedies for eczema: 6 options
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a common skin condition associated with inflammation, dryness, and itching.
While many prescription treatments are available, you may also want to try using home remedies to manage your eczema symptoms. The following home remedies are in no particular order.
1. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is a succulent plant people have used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
Like most other home remedies on this list, it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and is often used to soothe sunburned skin.
Some people apply aloe vera gel to areas affected by eczema to reduce itching and inflammation.
Despite many anecdotal claims that it’s effective, there is limited scientific research on using aloe vera for eczema.
An older 2009 review did suggest that aloe vera may offer wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties, but it didn’t specifically address whether the plant might improve eczema. The authors underlined that more research is needed to explore aloe vera’s potential for improving skin conditions.
2. Kitchen oils
Applying various oils to the skin is often said to improve eczema. These include:
- coconut oil
- olive oil
- sunflower seed oil
A 2019 review concluded that virgin coconut and sunflower seed oil could improve eczema symptoms in some people. However, olive oil might increase the risk of skin irritation. More research is necessary on the topic.
It’s important to note that oils can be comedogenic and may clog pores and exacerbate conditions like acne in some people. Avoiding oil for eczema on the face may be best if you’re prone to breakouts.
Oatmeal baths and ointments are other popular home remedies for eczema.
A review from 2019 says that adding colloidal oatmeal — finely ground oatmeal — to a warm bath can soothe itchy, irritated skin. The researchers partially attribute this effect to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in oats.
A 2020 study on 61 people demonstrated the beneficial effects of oatmeal on skin health. Here, an ointment containing 1% colloidal oats significantly improved:
- skin hydration
- acidity (pH)
- the skin’s protective barrier function
Honey is common in alternative and traditional medicine practices, and has the following properties:
A 2017 study that included 14 people found that applying Manuka honey to eczema improved symptoms. That said, the researchers highlighted a need for further research on the potential skin care benefits of honey.
5. Vitamin D
The review suggests that restoring healthy vitamin D levels may improve the condition in some individuals.
So, taking vitamin D supplements, getting more sun exposure, and eating vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, fortified milk products, and fortified juice may be worth trying as a home remedy for eczema.
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6. Avoid triggers
According to the NIAID, many factors may worsen your eczema, including:
- certain foods
- animal dander
- pollen or dust
- cold, dry air
- skin contact with chemicals, such as fragrances and dyes in hand lotion or soap
- emotional stress
- rough materials, including wool
The NIAID recommends that people with eczema avoid itchy, rough clothing items, clothing made from wool, and clothing washed with fragrances and other potentially irritating ingredients.
Stress can trigger eczema symptoms in some people. Managing stress, whether related to work, school, finances, or relationships, is essential.
While home remedies can be effective, they may only work for some people.
If you have severe eczema or your symptoms don’t improve with home remedies, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor. They can give you tailored medical advice and prescribe treatment, if necessary.
According to the National Eczema Society, common medications for eczema are:
- Topical steroids: Examples include dexamethasone (Dexonto) and methylprednisolone (Medrol). They can help reduce inflammation and itching, though some people experience side effects, such as thinning of the skin, from using them for too long.
- Emollients: These are moisturizers that help soothe and hydrate dry skin. You can find them in ointments, sprays, gels, and more forms, depending on your needs and preferences.
- Immunosuppressants: Examples include tacrolimus (Protopic), azathioprine (Azasan), and pimecrolimus (Elidel). They can help reduce inflammation and itching by suppressing allergic reactions from your immune system. It’s worth noting that they make take several months to have an effect.
- Oral antihistamines: Examples include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratadine (Claritin). These can help reduce itching in some people.
- Injections: Injectable drugs like Depo-Medrol, Dupixent, and Solu-Medrol contain steroids that can reduce inflammation. Since these drugs can have significant side effects, doctors only prescribe them for certain people.
Other treatment options are available apart from those mentioned in the article. The type of treatment will depend on the severity and type of eczema.
It’s important to follow a doctor’s recommendations when using prescription drugs for eczema, as they can have side effects and may interact with other medications.
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Many home remedies and prescription treatments are available to help manage eczema and its symptoms.
Although supportive research is generally lacking on most home remedies, virgin coconut oil, oatmeal baths, vitamin D, and aloe vera are all examples of common medication-free ways to manage eczema.
While these remedies may provide relief for people seeking alternative options to prescription treatments, they may only work for some.
To identify the best treatments for you, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with your doctor, including the possibility of prescription medications.
- Alangari AA, et al. (2017). Honey is potentially effective in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: Clinical and mechanistic studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5418133/
- Aw Yong PY, et al. (2021). The potential use of honey as a remedy for allergic diseases: A mini review. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.599080/full
- Capone K, et al. (2020). Effects of colloidal oatmeal topical atopic dermatitis cream on skin microbiome and skin barrier properties. https://jddonline.com/articles/effects-of-colloidal-oatmeal-topical-atopic-dermatitis-cream-on-skin-microbiome-and-skin-barrier-pro-S1545961620P0524X/
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis). (2017). https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/eczema-atopic-dermatitis
- Feily Al, et al. (2009). Aloe vera in dermatology: A brief review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19218914/
- Food and Drug Administration. (2017). FDA approves new eczema drug Dupixent [Press release]. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-eczema-drug-dupixent
- Karagounis T, et al. (2019). Use of "natural" oils for moisturization: Review of olive, coconut, and sunflower seed oil. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30152555/
- Kim M, et al. (2016). Vitamin D status and efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in atopic dermatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/12/789
- Maarouf M, et al. (2019). Bathing additives for atopic dermatitis — A systematic review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31094942/
- Treating eczema — A stepped approach. (n.d.). https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/treatments-for-eczema/